A few years back, Sword and Shield ushered in Gen 8 to rather middling success. While the games sold an impressive 12+ million units as of recently, the games were mixed to say the least. I enjoyed it for what it is, and had a lot of things going for it (Wild Area was amazing). Needless to say the fans needed more. Much more.
On Pokemon’s 25th anniversary, it was announced that not only Diamond and Pearl were being remade as Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, but an open-world adventure would star Lucas and Dawn, the protagonists of the Gen 4 games.
Many were expecting greatness. After some found Sword and Shield disappointing (to me, they were “good, but not amazing”), Pokemon Legends: Arceus was more ambitious than anyone had realized. Game Freak doing an open world, with watercolor-like graphics akin to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Could they even pull it off?
They did. And created one of the best Pokemon Games in it’s 25, now 26 year lifespan.
Legends: Arceus tells the tale of Diamond and Pearl’s protagonists, choosing between the boy, Lucas, and the girl, Dawn. Arceus has transported you back in time to when the Sinnoh Region was known as Hisui, an ancient land where two clans vie for power in the name of their Almighty Sinnoh. But when a strange light affects the Lords of Hisui, they fear that you, the stranger to this ancient land, might be the cause.
Game Freak REALLY wanted a hit here, and I think they nailed it, and then some. Some wanted a Breath of the Wild-type of Pokemon game, but this resembles more Monster Hunter, with a main hub, and regions to explore. The game also incorporates elements of stealth, sneaking up on Pokemon to catch them and also to stay out of sight.
Older games had some level of safety. It was the Pokemon who got injured and knocked out rather than the trainer specifically. Here, you have Pokemon, your wits, and a slight case of developing Pokephobia.
The Pokemon in this game, can, and WILL, hurt you. In Hisui, Pokemon are an unknown, with the Galaxy Research team finding out more about these wild creatures who they share this world with. I don’t think I’ve ever been so threatened in a Pokemon game before.
In Hisui, even the task of catching three Pokemon is challenging for others. But not for our hero. Again, this is Sinnoh in the past, and even though is sounds a bit pathetic, there’s enough of a reason behind it to let it slide.
One notable introduction in this game is crafting, basically gathering materials to build things like Pokeballs, Potions, and occasionally quest items. It definitely adds to the action RPG vibe since many of these are found in the open world.
Another is Alpha Pokemon. These are larger, more challenging variants of Pokemon. And they’re not exaggerating about size. Smaller Pokemon, such as Buneary, are about as big as the protagonist. Others, like Goodra, can be massive behemoths that not even Arceus themself would mess with.
This game gives a fresh feel on the Pokemon franchise. My start was in Kanto, but I’ve made my home in Sinnoh for decades. The atmosphere, the plot, the lore, not to mention this was the region I started writing fanfiction in. All of my practice came from this region, and going back was a wonderful experience.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus is a much needed breath of air after the drought from Gen 8 and arguably Gen 7. It’s been a while that I felt this good about being a Pokemon fan, and with Scarlet and Violet on the horizon, you can bet I’ll be going to wherever that region will take me.
That’s all for today. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to subscribe to my Patreon for unique perks such as cameo appearances in future books, free ebooks upon release, and a lot more.
Let your magic guide you, everyone. See you next time.